She was a little nervous wondering what was going to turn up, so she’d suggested a coffee bar she was unlikely to use again. Well you can’t be too careful. This was the first meeting, to set a protocol for a further interview and to discuss areas she needed to learn about.
She stirred her cappuccino again then licked the froth off her spoon then looked at her watch, nearly time. She’s agreed to wear something red and have a copy of the Times with her. She was busy trying to do the quick crossword in the second section, Times Two, or whatever they called it. She couldn’t concentrate, well it’s not every day she met with a gender bender. There was that pretty one, Paris somebody or other, and that weirdo that won the Eurovision in a dress with a beard—really!
Poo, how do you spell germane? Relevant was the clue and she knew it began with the letter G and seven letters, had to be germane, now was that ending in ane or ain? No, the latter was the name, so it had to be ane. Phew, it was usually easier than this. She’d written all sorts of fiction but had never ventured much into gender other than normal men and women. She’d hinted in her last book that one of the women was lesbian, but it was pretty sketchy. Her publisher had liked her outline for the next book, a romance with a difference. Boy meets and falls in love with girl—who used to be a boy.
On reflection she’d wondered if it was such a good idea. How could you turn a boy into a girl. To start with boys are bigger. Heads are usually bigger, shoulders are wider and feet and hands were a dead giveaway. She casually watched the comings and goings in the coffee shop, no transwotsits had entered so far, of that she was sure. She checked her watch again, he/she was late.
Send had to be transmit, she decided looking again at her crossword and as she wrote in the letters with her expensive ballpoint, she became aware of someone standing in front of her. She glanced up and saw a very attractive woman. “Are you Letitia?” asked the stranger.
“Yes,” answered the writer, “You must be...”
“Deborah,” answered the new arrival. They shook hands, well they clasped hands and then let go. Women don’t usually try to rip each other’s arms off to impress.
The new comer summoned a waitress and asked for a latte coffee and Letitia agreed to another cappuccino. They waited for the coffees to arrive. Once that was over, Letitia explained what she wanted.
“Procedures are available from the internet, why did you need to speak to someone?” asked Deborah.
“A procedure won’t tell me what someone is feeling.”
“True,” conceded Deborah.
“Have you—you know—had the—um—op?”
“Why is that important?”
“I’d like to know what you thought about, how you felt, was it successful...”
“For sex, you mean?”
“Amongst other things—yes.”
“And you want to know this for one of your characters in your new book?”
“Okay?” repeated Letitia.
“Yeah, it’s okay.”
“Oh I see.” Letitia blushed.
“Yours okay?” asked Deborah cheekily.
“My husband thinks so.”
“Ah, but what about you—is it okay for you?”
Letitia felt very uncomfortable, “Yes, but I don’t see that as germane to this meeting.” Crosswords obviously had their uses.
“No? How can you describe a romantic encounter if you’ve never had one.”
“I beg your pardon?” Letitia felt quite annoyed. She was forty years old, a natural female and here was this—this woman, who can’t have been more than twenty something—questioning her sex life.
Deborah finished her coffee. The conversation had stalled. “I read your last book, Medicine from the heart, none of my colleagues resembled the doctors you wrote about, and the lesbian nurse was nothing more than a shadow. If you can’t do better than that with ordinary people how are you going to write anything about extraordinary ones?”
Letitia was verging on incandescent feeling that if she got any hotter she’d actually start to smoke. “How dare you tell me how to write; I’ve published twenty novels and had good reviews.”
“Obviously people’s tastes vary. I thought they were all poorly written and very formulaic. The women characters were all the same dozy and desperate.”
“And you know all about being a woman, don’t you?” Letitia thought it was about time she gave this upstart the coup de grace.
“As a gynaecologist, quite a bit—more than you by the look of it. When you’ve learned what making love is really about, not just the soppy stuff you write which is more stereotyped than Meg Ryan’s exhibition in the diner, come back and I’ll talk to you about my experiences. Thanks for the coffee.”
Deborah rose from her seat leaving Letitia in a state of shock. The author watched the elegant surgeon ease her way through the tables. She wore an expensive suit, and her figure was quite trim. Was she a transwhatever or a biological woman?
Letitia felt a tear escape her eye and dabbed at it carefully not to smudge her immaculate makeup. Deborah had only worn a touch of mascara and eyeliner, yet she’d looked attractive and professional. Was she a real woman? Letitia suspected she’d never know and given the attack upon her writing, did she want to. But Deborah was correct about one thing, her sex life was pathetic, John, her husband was a nice enough bloke but it was common knowledge he was fucking his secretary so didn’t do much in bed at home except sleep.
Perhaps Letitia needed to do some further research of a more practical nature, what was the name of that nice young man at her publisher, oh yes, Russell. She ordered another coffee and picked up her mobile...
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